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Landers, 60, sells McLarty interest

By Jack Weatherly

This article was published March 26, 2014 at 3:34 a.m.

Steve Landers has sold the remainder of his minority interest in RLJ-McLarty-Landers Auto Group’s dealerships in the United States and Mexico, he said Tuesday.

Landers, 60, retains an interest in the group’s dealerships in Brazil, he said, and his interest in his family-owned dealerships is unchanged.

Landers sold most of his RLJ-McLarty-Landers Auto Group interest in 2012 to his partners, Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, majority owner, and Robert L. Johnson, with whom Landers had equal stake.

He declined to say how much he got in the latest sale in December.

In response to an unconfirmed report that he had sold his family business, Landers said, “I’m at work right now. I’ve had several knee surgeries and I’ve slowed down a little bit, but I still own and operate them.”

He and his sons, Scott and Steve, own Landers Toyota and Steve Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep, both in Little Rock, and a Toyota dealership in St. Louis, acquired by Scott.

Landers Toyota is the leading dealership in monthly new-vehicle registrations in Arkansas, according to Cross-Sell of Lexington, Ky .,an automotive research firm. And the Landers Chrysler Dodge Jeep dealership is in the top 10.

RLJ-McLarty-Landers ranked 19th in the United States in number of new vehicles sold in 2012, according to Automotive News. The group’s total sales for that year were $1.2 billion, the publication says.

Landers had been president of the group for six or seven years before stepping down in 2012, when “traveling every week was getting to me. Mack’s a great partner and Bob’s a great partner.

We’restill friends. I gave them six or eight months to get someone to come in and run it.”

The group has 22 U.S. dealerships, according to its website. It had 25 at the end of 2012, Automotive News said.

In Arkansas, RLJ-McLarty-Landers owns a Ford, Dodge, Chrysler Jeep dealership in Bentonville, a Nissan lot in Bentonville, and Harley-Davidson dealerships in Little Rock and Conway.

McLarty was chief of staff for President Bill Clinton and is president of McLarty and Associates, an international advisory firm.

Johnson was the founder of Black Entertainment Television, which he sold to Viacom for a reported $3 billion in 2001.

Business, Pages 25 on 03/26/2014

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